Webb Gem: Giants’ ace deals for five innings then disappears in 6-1 win over the Rockies

By Morris Phillips

Among Gabe Kapler’s biggest tenets is protecting his Giants starting pitchers, knowing their importance to the teams’ success, as well as the industry-wide competition to secure and retain their services.

Logan Webb received Kapler’s grand treatment on Wednesday night, but not in the manner one might expect.

After retiring 16 of the first 17 batters he faced, Webb allowed his first hit, a one-out single to Sean Bouchard in the sixth. Kapler then shot out of the dugout and removed his 25-year old ace after throwing 66 pitches.

Kapler did what? Well, there are two, obvious metrics: the Giants began the night 31 games out of first place in the NL West with 14 games remaining, and Webb has thrown a career-high 181 1/3 innings this season. Decision made.

“We didn’t have any plans of letting him get a sixth up in this game, so even giving him that sixth up was a diversion from the game plan,” Kapler said. “So good for Logan. He pitched his ass off and was absolutely excellent tonight.

“At this point we’re managing 2022 and ‘23 and beyond,”

Webb has a significant stack of achievements over this season and last, enough to establish himself as the organization’s most prominent player going forward. But he’s never thrown a no-no or a complete game. That’s just how the game works these days at a position where the elite command $20 million a year, and arm trouble is always a concern. Given that, Webb didn’t fuss and was quite pragmatic about the situation.

“I want to throw 200 innings for the next 10 years, not just this year,” he said.

In an interesting bit of foreshadowing, Webb recounted a conversation with his father and teammate Tyler Rogers before the game in which they implored Webb to test his workload restriction by throwing no-hit ball through five innings. Again, Webb’s reaction was tinged with pragmatism.

“It’s Coors Field,” Webb said. “I’m going to give up a hit.”

While Webb dealt, the Giants’ hitters followed the typical Coors’ script, pounding out 15 hits in a 6-1 win that followed a 65-minute rain delay before the first pitch.

Immediately, Coors things were happening when a potential inning-ending double play turned into the Giants’ first run as first baseman C.J. Cron’s glove unraveled, allowing the relay throw from second base to pass right through the glove’s webbing. Lamonte Wade Jr. scored from third on the play and the Giants held a 1-0, first inning lead.

“The laces just ripped in two spots,” Cron said.

The Giants went on to score two runs in the fourth, one in the fifth and two in the ninth inning to build a 6-0 lead. A rare Coors Field shutout was derailed in the bottom of the ninth when Elehuris Montero homered off Thomas Szapucki, the fourth Giants’ reliever in support of Webb.

The Giants go for the four-game sweep on Thursday afternoon with John Brebbia in the openers’ role. Recent acquisition Jharell Cotton, the former A’s starter, is expected to assume the bulk innings role following Brebbia. Jose Urena is the announced starter for the Rockies.

REMEMBER KRIS BRYANT?: A year ago the Giants’ drew considerable praise for their trade deadline acquisition of Kris Bryant from the Cubs. The 6’5″ Bryant was the second overall pick in the 2013 Draft and went on to be a centerpiece of the Cubs drive to winning the 2016 World Series. But when the Cubs declined in 2021, Bryant was made available via trade with value as a slugger along with being a versatile defender with an expiring contract.

After a fast start with the Giants, the warts in Bryant’s game began to show and he found himself more and more frequently out of Gabe Kapler’s starting lineup as the Giants raced to the NL West title. In the off-season, the Giants faced a difficult choice to resign the 30-year old Bryant to a pricey, multi-year deal. When the Giants declined, the Rockies stepped up with a 7-year, $182 million deal that didn’t figure to age well given Bryant’s age and his steady decline in production following the 2016 season.

The Giants appear to have made the right choice after the Rockies announced that Bryant will rejoin the Rockies for their final road trip, but he has not sufficiently recovered from a foot injury to resume his third base duties. If Bryant fails to return to the field, his first-year in Colorado will end with a stat line of .306 with 5 home runs, 14 RBI in just 42 games as he spent time on the injured list with back issues followed by foot issues.





A Season Lost: The Giants six, most damaging losses in 2022

By Morris Phillips

At 69-74, with 19 games remaining, the Giants are playing out the string, holding daily auditions for the 2023 season, and moving players between Sacramento and San Francisco so frequently they could cause their own, I-80 traffic jam.

It’s tedious stuff especially after the excitement stretched into October last season, and those 107 wins are just a polarizing subject at this point. But the organization trudges on, knowing that a better 2023 season is within their capable reach.

But first, what went wrong? And when did it happen? The Giants started fast through April 26, winning the 13 of their first 18 games to take a lead in the NL West, then a disturbing trend emerged: losing games too frequently to mediocre and bad teams.

In the four games starting April 27, the Giants lost three of four home games to the A’s and Nationals, the teams with the worst record in each league this season. And it wasn’t that they lost, but how they lost. First, a 1-0 shutout loss to Paul Blackburn and the A’s at Oracle Park, followed by a 14-4 whipping in which Alex Wood was roughed up, and then to finish the series with the Nationals, Alex Cobb was taken to task in a 11-5 loss. We’ll term the stretch one frustrating loss followed by two embarrassing ones.

A key moment emerged regarding the team’s bullpen in the 11-5 loss. Trailing 8-0, the Giants struck for five runs in the bottom of the seventh to crawl back in it, only to see reliever Jake McGee allow two hits and two walks in the eighth, culminating with Yadiel Hernandez’ bases-clearing double that again put the game out of reach. McGee would go on to get roughed up in his next outing versus the Cardinals, and then released on July 9, a humbling conclusion for a pitcher who was signed prior to the 2021 season to be the team’s closer.

Keeping track? On May 1, beginning with McGee’s implosion another troubling trend emerged: the season-long failure of the bullpen which has gone from the NL’s best in 2021 to one of the worst in 2022.

So does May 1 qualify as one of the Giants’ six most damaging losses in 2022? Probably, but for our purposes, no. The Giants have performed admirably against non-NL West competition, with a 48-38 record that culminated with the 4-1 win over the Braves on Wednesday. Their biggest malfeasance has been competing against divisional opponents, who have doubled down their efforts to beat the Giants after they were soundly outclassed in 2021.

Last season the Giants were an other-worldly 53-23 against the Dodgers, Padres, D’Backs and Rockies (17-2 against Colorado). This season, with the final 19 games all against these four teams, the Giants are 21-36 with a string of narrow losses in low-scoring games in which their offense has all but disappeared. That’s a .368 winning percentage that would rank as their third-worst showing versus divisional opponents since 1969. In a closer look, that’s 15 games below .500 with a run-differential in those 57 games of only minus 30. Again, the NL West losses have been close, low-scoring and agonizing.

Here are the six, most frustrating of those losses, and the most damaging of the season in its entirety.

May 3, at Dodger Stadium: Coming off the A’s/Nationals downer, the Giants needed a pick-me up in their first meeting with the hated Blue after the Game 5 loss in the 2021 NLDS. Carlos Rodon appeared to be the guy to give it to them, but he walked Max Muncy and Cody Bellinger in a 27-pitch, second inning that left him trailing 2-0. Meanwhile, the Giants with Mauricio Dubon and Darin Ruf (both subsequently traded) hitting 2-3 in their limited lineup went 0 for 7 against Julio Urias and four relievers. In the eighth, trailing 2-1, John Brebbia allowed a leadoff double to Hanser Alberto, who later scored on Jose Alvarez’ wild pitch to provide the Dodgers insurance in a 3-1 win.

Biggest frustration: the Giants got beat by Chris Taylor (2 RBI) and Alberto, hitting 8-9, not Mookie Betts, Trea Turner and Freddie Freeman, hitting 1-2-3.

May 18, at Coors Field: After a pair of losses at Los Angeles, the Giants rebounded with a winning home stand, followed by three wins in five games at St. Louis and Colorado. In the getaway game against the Rockies the Giants had an opportunity to secure a winning road trip while topping the Rockies for a franchise-record 13th straight time. Leading 3-2 in the eighth inning, things went sideways despite the presence of Logan Webb, looking for a ML-leading sixth win.

Manager Gabe Kapler decided to stick with Webb to start the eight, and he allowed a leadoff single to Connor Joe, and Webb was replaced by Jose Alvarez. Charlie Blackmon’s bunt moved Joe into scoring position, and the next batter, Yonathon Diaz, delivered a game-tying single. Slugger C.J. Cron then got revved up by receiving a 3-0 count from Alvarez, and delivered the game-winning, two-run homer two pitches later. The Giants went scoreless after the fourth inning against starter Kyle Freeland and three, less than exemplary relievers.

Biggest frustration: Webb allowed two runs in the first, then settled in. He retired 16 consecutive batters before allowing Joe’s leadoff single in the eighth. Should Kapler have lifted him at that point with fewer than 100 pitches thrown (97)?

July 7, at Petco Park: In what would becme the Giants 13th loss in a 17-game stretch, Webb was again terrific, but given no support. This time, Webb went a full eight innings, allowed one run, but left with the game tied, 1-1 in what would become a frustrating 2-1 loss in 10 innings. What’s worse, Webb had company in being singularly heroic in a devastating loss as Brandon Crawford came up with a game-tying base hit with two outs in the ninth. Even worse? Taylor Rogers, on a night the Giants’ offense was MIA, played the helpful twin brother (to the Giants’ Tyler Rogers) by plunking Austin Slater to leadoff the ninth. Slater than stole second, and scored on Crawford’s big hit… to no avail.

Biggest frustration: The Giants went 10 innings in this one with just two hits, and somehow realized 11 missed opportunities with a runner in scoring position. Three of those came in the 10th with the placed runner at second base, another three came in the sixth when the Giants failed to push a run across after Lamonte Wade Jr. ignited the inning with a leadoff double.

July 21, at Dodger Stadium: The first game after the All-Star break saw the Giants all but finished in the division with a 13 1/2 game deficit behind the first-place Dodgers. But at 48-44, the team was still in great shape to compete for a wild-card spot in the newly-expanded postseason format. Five wins in the final six games leading up to the break suggested that the club was ready to put it’s bad habits away, and get down to business, but that turned out to not be the case.

After Rodon was uncharacteristically roughed up in the game’s first, five innings, the Giants mounted a rally down 5-0. A five-run seventh tied it, and Thairo Estrada drew a bases loaded walk in the eighth to give the Giants a 6-5 lead. Kapler summoned Dominic Leone to pitch the bottom of the eighth, but he allowed a one-out double to Gavin Lux on a two-strike pitch and the walls caved in. After retiring Max Muncy on a ground out, Leone gave up a game-tying triple to Trayce Thompson, and he was relieved by Jarlin Garcia. Clay Bellinger, batting ninth, drew a four-pitch walk and three pitches later, Mookie Betts’ three-run homer put the Dodgers in the winners circle once again.

Biggest frustration: The Giants came up empty under the big lights. With singer Billie Eilish, her songwriting brother Phineas, and 3-time World Champion Klay Thompson in the stands the Giants came up small in the game’s biggest moments. That they were ultimately undone by Betts (facing Garcia) only furthered the belief that the club needs an infusion of superstar-talent to compete with their hated rival from Southern California.

July 27, at Chase Field: The Giants’ decisive stretch of seven-consecutive losses to start the season’s second half concluded with this one, a game that was tied 2-2 in the seventh when the D’Backs pushed across three runs to decide it. While Arizona got resourceful and opportunistic with a pair of bunts to ignite their game-winning rally, the Giants just self-destructed. After Jake McCarthy’s leadoff bunt base hit, Sergia Alcantara’s single moved McCarthy to third. Austin Slater attempted to throw out McCarthy at third, but failed, and that allowed Alcantara to move up a base. Jose Herrera got down a bunt to score McCarthy and give Arizona a lead, but Brandon Belt fielded the bunt and airmailed his throw to the plate in an attempt to cut down McCarthy. That error allowed Alcantara to score as well.

Biggest frustration: Kapler, once again saw his Giants fail with Rodon or, in this case, Webb getting the start. Even more telling, the club’s body language wasn’t what it needed to be after six, consecutive losses, prompting Kapler to say, “We need to come out with more fire.”

August 10, at Petco Park: In the midst of a stretch of games where the Giants again sprung to life winning eight of 10, this was the one that prevented a ninth win in 10 outings, as the Giants blew 4-0 and 7-6 leads only to lose 13-7. The Padres basked in the glow of their Juan Soto acquisition, and got to spray off a bunch of self-congratulatory quotes after the game. The Giants squandered a big game from deadline pickups J.D. Davis (three hits, two runs scored) and Austin Wynns (two hits, two runs scored), but saw starter Jakob Junis and reliever Yunior Marte fall into a world of trouble. Junis was a revelation in the season’s first half with his ability to take the ball every fifth day in place of the injured Anthony DeSclafani, but this game highlighted the fact that Junis’ season derailed for a stretch following a hamstring injury. Marte, pitching in a big spot in the absence of a bunch of ineffective Giants’ relievers that were released, demoted or no longer trusted, was left to get fleeced in the Padres’ seven-run, sixth inning rally.

Biggest frustration: Another loss to the Padres (the Giants trail the season series with San Diego 11-5) and another lost opportunity to expose their shortcomings. Since August 3, the date of Soto’s acquisition, the Padres have gone 18-19 and seen Fernando Tatis Jr. suspended for 80 games for violating MLB’s rules regarding performance-enhancing drugs. Had the Giants applied the heat in head-to-head matchups, they’d likely still be in the postseason hunt. Instead the Padres received a pass, and even then, they might be had by the Brewers down the stretch.

Are We Done Yet? Giants light up the sky in 7-4 win over the Dodgers

By Morris Phillips

Five days ago, Giants’ manager Gabe Kapler said this:

“The main issue for us is we haven’t been as good in the (strike) zone. I think earlier in the season, we were much better at driving balls in the zone.”

Don’t recall that quote that Kapler issued after his team dropped a third straight to the Padres on Wednesday?

Probably not. But apparently his team did. Seven home runs, eight doubles and a triple in the last four games suggest the Giants got the message. And four, straight wins, including Monday’s eye-opener, a 7-4 win at Dodger Stadium may also suggest they haven’t closed the book on the 2022 season.

Or foreshadowing other areas to shore up.

“The home runs were big,” Kapler said. “I think we at least equally won the game with some defense.”

After Freddie Freeman homered to give the Dodgers a 2-0 first inning lead, the Giants were left to check the weather (95 degrees at first pitch) and see what they could glean from the scouting report on opposing pitcher Andrew Heaney (only seven home runs allowed, but six of those in his most recent three starts).

A plan of attack emerged (rake!) and the Giants followed it intently.

In the third and fourth innings, Lewis Brinson, J.D. Davis, Thairo Estrada and David Villar went deep to give the Giants a commanding 6-2 lead. In the ninth, with the Giants nursing a 6-4 lead, Brinson went deep again. If you know this quartet, you’ve exhaustingly followed a rough season. If not–Brinson’s arrival came on Thursday after the slugger languished in the Astros’ farm system all season–here’s help: we’ll call them the next generation of Giants’ sluggers.

Monday’s haul was just the third time the Giants have hit five homers in a game at Dodger Stadium with the feat previously achieved in 1999 and 2004. The win broke a seven-game losing streak to the Dodgers and provided hope. That’s not easily achieved when you trail your rival by 26 1/2 games in September.

“It’s fun when you win, especially here in LA,” Villar said. “As a team, it just feels like we’re gelling.”

Defensively, Brandon Crawford and Evan Longoria provided gems with Longo’s leaping catch of Freeman’s smash ending the fifth inning and preventing the Dodgers from scoring what would have been a big run.

Logan Webb was extremely honest regarding Freeman’s homer (“The Freeman pitch was not a great pitch. I can’t throw that guy anything.”) but he also was a winner. Webb settled in, didn’t give the Dodgers anything else, and earned his 12th win in his 28th start (both career bests).

The Giants look for an improbable, fifth, consecutive win on Tuesday with Tyler Anderson on the mound for the Dodgers. The Giants have not yet announced a starter for Tuesday.

Untangling A Webb: Tigers chase Giants’ ace in decisive fifth inning, and win 6-1

By Morris Phillips

On the day of MLB’s 2023 interleague-heavy schedule release, the Giants ironically found themselves in a strange ballpark. Like a scary movie, things seemed normal at first, then veered wildly toward strange.

Logan Webb cruised into the fifth inning with a no-hitter, and retired 13 of the first 15 batters he faced, with the exception of two walks he issued. Then the downtown Detroit skyline became eerie, and figuratively, the roof caved in.

Jeimer Candelario broke up the no-no with a one out single, and Tucker Barnhart, hitting .208, followed with a double to put two runners in scoring position. Akil Baddoo, hitting ninth with a .190 batting average, drew a walk to load the bases. Then Brandon Crawford misjudged Riley Greene’s hard-hit ground ball up the middle against a shift. Crawford was in position, but watched the ball kick up and over his glove on its way to center field. That gave the Tigers a 2-0 lead, and we segue for some analysis from manager Gabe Kapler.

I think when Logan is ahead in the count he’s getting more swings and misses,” Kapler said. “So there was some contact in that inning. Some of it was unfortunate, some of it was hard. I think if Logan could have that inning back, he’d probably get ahead of the bottom of the lineup.”

Webb started the next two batters–Kody Clemens (Roger Clemens’ son) and Harold Castro–with strikes, but it mattered little. Both produced RBI singles. Down 4-0 with a pair of runners aboard, Webb’s afternoon was finished.

 “I can’t really explain it,” Webb said. It just wasn’t very good.”

Thomas Szapucki was Kapler’s choice to end the Tigers’ rally, but Willi Castro sent his fifth pitch into the left field gap, scoring two more runs. Szapucki, acquired from the Mets in the Darin Ruf-J.D. Davis swap, tried to retire Castro with a low-80’s curve ball, but he had seen it three times in the four previous pitches, and he was ready for it.

Down 6-0, the Giants’ attempts to rally didn’t amount to much. Mike Yastrzemski, Joey Bart and Tommy LaStella strung together two out hits in the seventh to get the Giants on the board, but Lamonte Wade Jr. struck out to end that inning. The Giants realized baserunners in the eighth and ninth, but couldn’t bring them around in either frame.

The Giants finished 1 for 13 with runners in scoring position.

Along with Webb, Wade’s afternoon was especially rocky. He finished 0 for 4 with a strikeout, and saw his smash to centerfield go 415 feet only to be caught by Greene, who provided an impressive jump to settle underneath the fly out in front of the 420 foot sign. Wade won’t cherish this August; he’s hitting .175 with just seven hits, none of them singles (two doubles, five home runs). He’s 0 for his last 13 across the most recent five games.

The other piece of adversity for the Giants surrounds Brandon Belt, who was put on the 10-day list with chronic knee issues. Speculation is that this injury could short circuit the remainder of Belt’s career, but the 35-year old said he chooses not to ponder that conclusion at this juncture.

The Giants won’t have a winning record to take to Minneapolis, falling to 61-62, but they will encounter a struggling Twins team without the injured Byron Buxton. The Twins have lost nine of 14 and are losing tonight in Houston at press time, 5-1.

The Giants will have Alex Wood on the mound Friday night in their first visit to Target Field. The Twins have not announced a starter.

More irony: the schedule reveal for next season has the Giants revisiting Detroit and Minnesota and opening the season in the Bronx against the Yankees, as all major league teams will see their interleague schedule go from 20 to 46 games, and see them play one three-game series against all 15 American League clubs with the only home-and-home against the A’s (two games at home, two games in Oakland).

Giants display unconventional tactics to no avail in 5-0 loss to the Diamondbacks and Zac Gallen

By Morris Phillips

SAN FRANCISCO–Over the weekend, the Giants’ bunting seemed like a smart tactic, a way to lift their collective, moribund batting averages, and put pressure on the opponent’s defense.

On Thursday, bunting drew the boo birds.

The story begins and progresses to a decisive juncture with Zac Gallen, Arizona’s starter in the finale of the four-game series. Gallen was as good as it gets, shutting out the Giants into the eighth inning while striking out 12.

“I felt like I was ahead early and I felt like I was able to put them away after one or two pitches,” Gallen said.

If that simple statement sounds cocky, it matters not. Gallen dealt to the degree that this may have been the best start of his career. He didn’t walk anyone, he allowed three singles and a double to Evan Longoria, and he started the first 21 batters he faced with strike one. Gallen finished with an amazing 23 of 25 first pitch strikes. Combine that with the effectiveness of his four pitches, and know that in the latter stages of the outing the Giants were flailing, and made to guess.

“He was feeling it and it was a lot of fun for all of us to watch,” manager Torey Lovullo said.

With two on, two strikes and two out in the seventh, Brandon Belt attempted to bunt his way on, squaring at the last second and not getting enough of the bat on the ball, leaving little momentum as it went foul 10 feet from the plate. That ended the team’s most promising rally with a dud. Gallen appeared confounded by the move, and the crowd responded with boos. Neither conventional or effective, Belt was left to explain after the game.

“(Gallen) didn’t miss a whole lot and I wasn’t doing much with it,” Belt said. “From my point of view I’ve been struggling a little bit. He was tough all day. He didn’t have a whole lot of misses high and inside with his fastball. I took the best route that I thought would keep the inning going. I’m not saying I’m right about that, but that was the decision I made.”

After a pair of exhilarating wins to start the series, and Brandon Crawford’s come-from-behind, walk-off homer on Tuesday, the Giants ended up with a split with the Diamondbacks. Despite winning five straight, the Giants are back to square one. With 44 games remaining, they’re 59-59 and trailing the Padres by six games in the wild card chase. Needless to say, they can’t afford many more afternoons like this one.

Logan Webb started for the hosts and ran into difficulties in the third inning. The Giants’ ace wouldn’t survive the fifth after allowing nine hits and three walks along with having to account for Joc Pederson’s fielding error in the fifth. Pederson’s gaffe helped the Diamondbacks score twice, increasing their lead to 5-0.

The Giants open a three-city trip in Denver on Friday, facing the Rockies and starter Jose Urena, who’s won just once in eight starts since being acquired from Milwaukee. Alex Wood will start for the Giants.

What Happened to the Giants? No One Got Better

By Morris Phillips

SAN FRANCISCO–Step into the world of Wins Above Replacement with me. This is the world where the elite Major League players are quantified and recognized. In 2021, the Giants’ out-of-nowhere season of 107 wins and an NL West Championship, this is where the majority of the roster lived.

In 2022, almost the entirety of the Giants’ roster has moved out. So have the wins, the adulation and the postseason aspirations.

The two biggest standouts from 2021 in regards to WAR–Brandon Crawford and Kevin Gausman–have fallen off dramatically. Crawford’s 6.1 WAR of 2021 symbolized his stature as an MVP candidate, and a daily force defensively and offensively. Outside of the now-retired Buster Posey, Crawford was the team’s MVP who regularly supplied big hits and shut down opponents with game-altering defensive plays.

This season, Crawford hasn’t participated in 45 of the team’s 121 games thus far, and his defense has slipped. At age 35 and relied upon to be a daily presence at shortstop, the game’s most demanding defensive position, Crawford has seen an increase in his errors. After a career season, that would be expected, but for the Giants’ needs, his decline has been more dramatic than expected.

Gausman moved on, lured by similar dollars and a lengthier deal than the Giants would offer. For the Blue Jays, Gausman’s been good with similar peripheral numbers to what he posted last season, but he hasn’t won as much. Last season, Gausman was 14-6 for the Giants, this season he’s 8-8 for Toronto.

In Gausman’s place, Carlos Rodon has been nearly as good. Signed as a free agent after a 13-5 season for the White Sox, Rodon’s been healthier than he was last season while winning 10 times to date. Surely, the Giants are satisfied with the transition from Gausman to Rodon.

Similarly, Logan Webb was outstanding last season, and again this season. The difference between the two seasons for Webb aren’t much, maybe just that he’s suffered a loss at home after going without a single loss at Oracle Park last season.

Along the lines of the Rodon acquisition, Jakob Junis has pitched well for the Giants in a position of need, in the absence of injured starter Anthony DeSclafani. Thought to be a spot starter/opener, Junis has spent half this season, taking regular turns in the rotation and pitching deeper in games than expected. But that’s not the entire story: Junis has declined dramatically since he was injured in June. In six starts since, he’s failed to pitch five innings in any of those appearances.

Here’s the Giants’ Top 12 WAR performers in 2021 and 2022

2021:

  1. Brandon Crawford (6.1 WAR) 1. Carlos Rodon (4.0)
  2. Kevin Gausman (5.3) 2. Logan Webb (3.9)
  3. Logan Webb (4.0) 3. Jakob Junis (1.6)
  4. Anthony DeSclafani (4.0) 4. John Brebbia (1.6)
  5. Buster Posey (3.5) 5. Mike Yastrzemski (1.4)
  6. Darin Ruf (2.9) 6. Alex Wood (1.4)
  7. Brandon Belt (2.7) 7. Thairo Estrada (1.3)
  8. Mike Yastrzemski (2.5) 8. Wilmer Flores (1.3)
  9. Tyler Rogers (2.5) 9. Curt Casali (1.1)
  10. Steven Duggar (2.2) 10. Luis Gonzales (1.0)
  11. Evan Longoria (1.8) 11. Austin Slater (1.0)
  12. Wilmer Flores (1.7) 12. Camilo Doval (1.0)

The prevailing theme of the two lists is the decline in the WAR numbers across the board. Only two of this season’s Giants would even qualify for last season’s top 12. That’s dramatic, and indicative of a team that’s already lost more games than they did all of last season.

Of those listed for 2021, Gausman, Ruf and Duggar have signed elsewhere or been traded, and DeSclafani is out for the season due to injury. So if we don’t move beyond the two lists, only one player who was on the team this season and last has improved: John Brebbia.

That’s probably not enough.

On Friday, the Giants welcome the Pirates to Oracle Park with Bryse Wilson facing Carlos Rodon. Wilson’s just 2-6 on the season, but the Pirates have won three of his previous four starts.

Tough Loss, Scary Collision: Giants fall in San Diego, 2-1 as Padres’ Profar suffers head, neck injury

By Morris Phillips

Two hits don’t usually get a team on the scoreboard and into extra innings. Those two knocks, one a two-out, ninth inning RBI single from Brandon Crawford and an extremely timely stolen base from Austin Slater did just that on Thursday for the Giants.

Unfortunately, it didn’t get them much more as the visitors fell 2-1 at San Diego’s Petco Park to the Padres.

Jorge Alfaro’s bases loaded base hit in the 10th inning won it for the Padres, who had lost eight of ten coming in and were just as desperate as their opponent. The Giants, have lost seven of eight after they interrupted their losing spell with a come from behind win at Arizona on Wednesday.

Jurickson Profar was involved in a scary, outfield collision with C.J. Abrams in the fifth inning in which his neck and head were put into a precarious position from the impact of Abrams’ leg. After a few minutes, Profar attempted to exit on his own power only to collapse on the field.

The Giants continued to shake things up with their personnel as Jose Alvarez was placed on the injured list due to swelling in his elbow. Zack Littell was recalled to take Alvarez’ place on the active roster. David Villar saw his rapid ascent through the minors peak with his placement in the starting lineup, at third base in place of the injured Evan Longoria.

Mauricio Llovera had a big moment in the ninth inning, plying his trade out of the bullpen against Manny Machado, Nomar Mazara and pinch-hitter Ha-Seong Park. Llovera struck out three, with the dangerous Machado and Park dispatched after swinging at sliders. Mazara took his looking as the slider froze him.

San Diego’s Joe Musgrove and Logan Webb locked into a spirited pitching duel with Musgrove allowing just one hit, and Webb flawless with the exception of a home run allowed to Machado. Webb pitched eight innings, and Musgrove seven, only to see Crawford send the game into extras and leave both starters with no-decisions.

Several Giants hitters had rough nights, most notably Wilmer Flores, hitting third in the order, and going 0 for 4 with two strikeouts in big situations. Despite managing just two hits, the Giants went 1 for 12 with runners in scoring position and left nine baserunners stranded.

In his six, Major League seasons, Joe Musgrove has never been this good. Not even close. In this one, he struck out six and lowered his ERA to 2.09. Taylor Rogers, brother to the Giants’ Tyler, allowed the base hit to Crawford and the Giants’ only run.

The Giants will see former Ray Blake Snell in a starting role on Friday for San Diego, but manager Gabe Kapler has not announced a starter as of yet.

Wade, Webb and Doval: Is this the trio that becomes cornerstones for the Giants’ future?

By Morris Phillips

SAN FRANCISCO–Evan Longoria admitted he’s considered retirement at the conclusion of this season in an article published in the San Francisco Chronicle Thursday. Longoria said he discussed the subject last season with Buster Posey, who did retire. Brandon Belt is the captain, but for how much longer?

Brandon Crawford, who has had a remarkably injury-free career is on the injured list, giving the rest of the Giants a sense of what it’s like without his leadership on a daily basis.

This era of Giants is transitioning. Joey Bart has stepped in for Posey, although his still rough edges landed him back in Triple A Sacramento recently. So who’s next? Maybe the trio of 2021 standouts who were prominent and integral to the Giants’ effort in last season’s epic Game 5 against the Dodgers: Lamonte Wade Jr., Logan Webb and Camilo Doval.

Wade, who faced Max Scherzer in a pinch-hitting role in the ninth inning of that playoff game, and sent a shot just right of home run territory for a foul ball, was a good college player, and a mid-round pick for the Twins. After two stints with their big club that weren’t awe inspiring, he was dealt to the Giants.

The marriage was made in heaven: Wade thrived as a regular against left-handed pitching, putting up 18 home runs and 15 doubles in 299 at-bats in that role. His numbers after the seventh inning were even more scintillating, earning him the nickname “Late Night Lamonte.” Now 28, and after missing 60 games so far this season to various injuries, is he still the “it” guy? If so, his career in San Francisco could be lengthy.

Doval was signed as a free agent by the Giants in 2015… as a shortstop. Now, seven years later, Doval is the hard-throwing closer who continues to grow more comfortable in his role with each appearance. In 2021, Doval finished 5-1 with 37 strikeouts in 27 innings, and that earned him a pivotal role in Game 5 in a matchup with Los Angeles’ Cody Bellinger in which he allowed the game-winning hit to the Dodgers’ slugger in the ninth inning.

Doval isn’t arbitration eligible until 2025, making his situation too favorable to the Giants to do anything but keep in the role he occupies now. Also, Doval continues to improve his slider, the compliment to his near-100mph fastballs.

Webb has been with the Giants since 2014, when he was a fourth round selection in the MLB Draft. Since then, he’s been a steady riser and came into this season as the Giants’ number one starter after he became just the third Giant to throw 7 2/3 innings scoreless and strike out 10 batters. His fastball and slider combo from the same arm slot continue to fool batters this season, as his 7-2 record could be even better if it weren’t for some hiccups after Webb has departed a couple of his starts.

The Giants have Webb under control until 2026 and probably will welcome the arbitration process to determine how much their young star gets paid until then.

What’s interesting about this Giants’ trio is none of the three come with much fanfare. Those that do–Heliot Ramos, Bart and Marco Luciano–still could surpass these three or equal them in a formidable sextet down the line. The reality is, the aformentioned trio is a little bit older than Ramos, Bart and Luciano and they’ve arrived quickly with assurance. Regardless of who outdoes who going forward, this group collectively bode well for the organization’s future.

The Giants open a three-game set with the White Sox at Oracle Park on Friday night with Alex Cobb and Chicago’s Lance Lynn the announced starters.

Tense, Tight: Giants-Braves opener has playoff feel, Arcia propels Atlanta to a 2-1 win

By Morris Phillips

Supposedly there have been a bunch of lopsided results between the Giants and Braves over the last ten seasons, just not one on Monday night.

The opener of the four-game series at Truist Park was a pitcher’s duel with the Braves sneaking past the Giants with Orlando Arcia’s game-winning RBI single in the ninth. Max Fried and Logan Webb were brilliant, allowing just one run each, but neither was around when Arcia’s hard-hit, ground ball to the left side of the infield saw daylight.

The Giants had a pair of opportunities late to knock in a go-ahead run with a runner at third and just one out, but failed both times. Wilmer Flores struck out with the bases loaded in the eighth, and Thairo Estrada struck out facing Kenley Jansen in the ninth with runners at second and third.

With less than 70 games played this season, the Giants and Braves have already eyeballed each other with both trying to at least take advantage of the new postseason format and finish with the best record among non-division winners and gain homefield advantage in the opening round. Currently, both teams are looking up at the first place teams in their division, the Mets in the NL East and the Dodgers in the West.

Camilo Doval walked Matt Olson to leadoff the ninth on four pitches. The only free pass issued by the Giants all evening would be their undoing Marcell Ozuna singled to move Olson up, ahead of Arcia’s base hit with two outs.

Fried went seven innings, striking out eight and walking two. He was saddled with a no-decision when the Giants pushed a run across in the eighth. Fried has yet to lose to the Giants after five starts and one relief appearance.

Webb also pitched seven innings and allowed a run, while striking out seven and walking none. Travis D’Arnaud’s second inning homer was the only blemish for Webb, who has allowed six home runs this season–all on the road.

Joc Pederson received his World Series ring before the game, he was a late season acquisition by the Braves last year that contributed to their run to the title despite getting limited at-bats in the World Series. Pederson, Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford were all absent from the Giants’ starting lineup, but all three got pinch-hitting assignments.

The Giants will activate Anthony DeSclafani for a start in Tuesday’s game, his first action since being injured in April. Spencer Strider will get the start for the Braves, who have won 16 of 18.

Rockies Rise Up: After a string of poor results in SF, Colorado gets the best of the Giants with series-clinching 4-2 win

By Morris Phillips

SAN FRANCISCO–The best case scenario for the up-and-down Giants was to use the Rockies’ visit as a confidence-building spring board into their big series with the division-leading Dodgers over the weekend.

That wasn’t how the last three days played out.

The Giants squandered a win-worthy pitching performance from Logan Webb, going the final seven innings scoreless in a 4-2 loss to Colorado on Thursday afternoon. Four errors, two in the same inning by second baseman Thairo Estrada, didn’t help Webb or the Giants.

“I don’t think we played our best defense,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “It’s a really tough league when you’re not converting ground balls into outs. I think we’ve seen consistently a better brand of defense than we’ve played today.”

The Giants appeared to be doing their thing, scoring early with two runs in the second, and then turning to Webb to shut down an opponent that’s experienced very little success at Oracle Park over the last three seasons. Then a sloppy fourth inning turned that strategy to mush, as the Rockies struck for three runs, the product of three singles and three Giants’ errors. In that mix, Estrada first dropped a fly ball, then booted a ground ball when baserunner C.J. Cron apparently distracted him as he ran to second base.

All the upheaval definitely threw Webb off his game. The Giants’ pop-up ace was in sights of a 18th, consecutive start punctuated by a win at home, and he was pitching accordingly. Instead he was lifted in the sixth, trailing, after allowing six singles and a double to Charlie Blackmon. Webb struck out three, walked one and pitched efficiently, starting 20 of the 26 batters he faced with a strike.

Webb also got a great deal of support from Austin Wynns, the Giants’ newly acquired catcher in a trade with Philadelphia, who picked up a pair of hits, a run batted in, and almost immediately appeared locked into the program behind the plate.

He was awesome,” Webb said of Wynns. “He came up to me before the game … and he was like, ‘I watched your last four outings. You do this and this and this. I’m like, you know more about what I do than I’m actually thinking about doing.”

But none of the good stuff added up, not with the Giants’ offense absent after the second inning. In Monday’s loss to the Rockies, they did the same thing, scoring three runs in the first, and going the remaining eight innings scoreless. Austin Gomber, with six losses coming in and an ERA hoovering around six, made it work, throwing six innings to get the win. Manager Bud Black had kind words for Gomber and all his guys, who he noted didn’t give in to the prevailing story line of doom at Oracle Park, where they had lost 14 of 19.

“We strung some hits together,” Black said. “That was big as well. We stayed on the attack against a very tough pitcher. They helped us a little bit in the fourth defensively. But our guys kept battling.”

The Giants’ offense will get a boost from Brandon Belt and Lamonte Wade Jr., but neither slugger will be available for the Dodgers this weekend. The Giants are also down a starter with Alex Cobb on the shelf, meaning they’ll undoubtedly go the bullpen route in at least one of the last two games with the Dodgers giving the ball to Walker Buehler Friday and Julio Urias on Saturday.

Looking for the thrilling sequel to the 2021 NLDS series between the two clubs. Well, if so, the Giants are going to need to pick up their game under trying circumstances.

Jakob Junis gets his first appearance against the Dodgers in the Friday opener opposite Buehler at 7:15pm.